European Social Fund: participant guidance

Guidance regarding employment status, barriers to employment and qualifications for participants in the European Social Fund (ESF).

This document is part of a collection

Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and Pipeline compliance


The following is the minimum level of compliance that must be undertaken by Lead Partners administering a YEI scheme:


  • each employer should be issued with a Letter/Contract by the Lead Partner confirming the following information (for each young person recruited as part of the scheme): the name and address of the employee
  • the employee’s date of birth
  • confirmation of the employee’s legal residency/ability to take up paid employment in an EU State (please note that it is not necessary to provide documentary evidence with the letter – as this should have been collected by the Lead Partner as part of the registration process)
  • job title
  • employment start date
  • details of the wage rates being applied
  • details of the proposed number of hours worked per week
  • details of the number of weeks that wage subsidy will apply
  • employment end date
  • the method and frequency of payments (i.e. weekly via BACs)
  • details outlining the status of the organisation
  • declaration section – the employer must sign and return a copy of the declaration. In addition, the signed declaration should be counter-signed by the local Authority to confirm the eligibility of both the company and the employee

Wage subsidy - Pipeline and YEI


Both the employer and employee must be made aware that the scheme is funded by the European Social Fund.

Publicity guidance and copies of the ESF logo are available on the European Structural and Investment Funds website. 

National Minimum Wage

Information about the appropriate rates payable can be accessed online.

In certain circumstances, an employer may opt to pay more than the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage – where an individual is over 25 years of age), however the amount claimed should generally be capped at the appropriate national minimum wage rate. However, as per the 'National Rules on Eligibility of Expenditure' (page 25) “with prior approval of the MA, it may be acceptable to exceed the minimum”. Please refer to Section 5, Questions 10 and 11 of the 'ESF Participant Data and Evidence FAQ' for further detail.

In addition, any accompanying National Insurance/Superannuation contributions should be recalculated on a pro-rata basis. Information relating to the correct National Insurance rates and a National Insurance contributions calculator can be accessed online.

Please note that the National Living Wage is a statutory minimum that employers must pay to individuals aged 25 and over.

In order to verify wage subsidy costs, the following information/documentation must be made available when requested.

Payment between employer and employee

Individual paid via payroll:

  • payslip from employer or other appropriate payroll documentation (clearly displaying: Gross Salary; Employer’s National Insurance; Employers Pension cost and Net Pay)
  • where appropriate, BACS or BACS breakdown (clearly showing Net Pay and BACS total)
  • employers bank statement (clearly showing the individuals Net Pay or the BACS total)

Individual paid via petty cash

  • payslip from employer or other appropriate payroll documentation (clearly displaying: Gross Salary; Employer’s National Insurance; Employers Pension cost and Net Pay)
  • employer bank statement showing withdrawal of cash from bank (or ATM statement); petty cash book or record management system showing cash being paid in and list of petty cash payments which should clearly show employee name, date of payment and payment amount (net pay)

Individual paid via a Third Party

  • documentation from Third Party (i.e. a payroll provider) clearly evidencing defrayal

Payment between Lead Partner and employer

  • invoice/proforma from employer requesting payment – each individual employee should be itemised separately
  • where appropriate, Lead Partner BACS or BACS breakdown
  • lead Partner bank statements (clearly showing payment to employer or the BACS total)
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